You want a good, cheap live Ring Cycle with great singing and conducting? Here it is. Clemens Krauss was a complete man of the theater, and every bar of his 1953 Bayreuth Ring crackles with life and dramatic purposefulness... more ». What's more, his stalwart cast turns in fresher, more inspired work than their Bayreuth norm. Texts are in German only, and the beginning of Siegfried is shorn of its opening measures for which the timpani plays alone. A true bargain, but I'd hunt down the more expensive Laudis or Foyer import transfers for better sound. --Jed Distler« less
You want a good, cheap live Ring Cycle with great singing and conducting? Here it is. Clemens Krauss was a complete man of the theater, and every bar of his 1953 Bayreuth Ring crackles with life and dramatic purposefulness. What's more, his stalwart cast turns in fresher, more inspired work than their Bayreuth norm. Texts are in German only, and the beginning of Siegfried is shorn of its opening measures for which the timpani plays alone. A true bargain, but I'd hunt down the more expensive Laudis or Foyer import transfers for better sound. --Jed Distler
This could be the best deal for a budget-priced Ring
Ray Barnes | Surrey, British Columbia Canada | 05/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even if you have one or several other performances of any or all of the Ring operas, this set would be a very worthwhile addition. The unqualified recommendation was made because of this set's excellent value for the money. I have some reservations about Astrid Varnay's portrayal of Brunnhilde, as I find her pitch a bit uneven, but her vocal characterization is excellent. She was apparently very good at acting the role too. It is remarkable how many great Wagner sopranos have come from Scandinavia - Nilsson, Flagstad, Varnay, Frida Leider, just to name a few. The rest of the singing is generally very good to excellent and Hans Hotter in particular sounds better here than he did for Hans Knappertsbusch at Bayreuth in 1957, or for Georg Solti a few years later. Clemens Krauss is brisk and exciting, some would say even more than Bohm or Boulez, and the orchestral playing is outstanding. I still prefer Furtwangler's conducting in his 1950 La Scala set, not to mention Flagstad's vocally superior assumption of Brunnhilde, but the Krauss has much better sound, and the advantage of the superior Bayreuth acoustics. In the same price range as the Furtwangler, this set deserves equal consideration, and those who insist on at least reasonably full mono sound will probably prefer this one. A case can be made that this recording might be the one to have of all the live Bayreuth sets, I would rank it ahead of Knappertsbusch and, at least vocally, ahead of Boulez too (even Varnay is better vocally than Gwyneth Jones). Whether or not it surpasses Bohm is a judgment call, but Bohm's set is a lot more expensive.I believe the 4 operas are also available separately for very competitive prices and at the very least anyone interested should acquire a copy of the Gotterdammerung, which is a wonderful performance, for the same price as a typical single CD."
Great performance/Terrible pressing
Mahler Five | Cincinnati, Ohio, USA | 05/08/2000
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I have enjoyed this recording for many months. Contrary to some other comments I have always been able to look beyond the 1950's tape hiss sound and stage noises. The voice sound is rather clear and direct.A few weeks ago, after being away from this package for a few months, I removed a disc for play only to discover that one track would not play. Upon further investigation I found that a full 10 of the 14 discs were damaged. Some would not even track at all. A disgusting clouding, similar in appearance to ice cyrstals, had formed on part, or in some cases, all of the surface of the disc. I believe this to be a flaw in the manufacturing process (from a factory in Portugal). Beware."
Money well spent!
Martin | Finland | 02/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the greatest Rings available.You have the best Brünnhilde ever in Astrid Varnay, Wolfgang Windgassen has never sounded better, particulary in the last act of Siegfried - he really IS a lovestruck teenager. And here Hans Hotter is a great Wotan, far from the the tired old man with whith the wobbly voice that he is in the much overrated Solti recording. And there's so much moore, so these records are worth every cent. As the sound quality is good but far from DDD I still wouldn't recommend this as a first Ring. For a first choice Janowski is good and inexpensive."
Authentic Bayreuth Sound
Michael | Wisconsin, USA | 06/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, I have never attended a Bayreuth performance. What I know of the sound is derived from listening to and comparisng commercially released recordings of Wagner music dramas. On that basis I offer the opinion that the Krauss recordings, because apparently made without benefit of the kind of engineering and remastering customary with such major-label releases as the Boulez "Ring" and "Parsifal," and the Bohm "Ring" and "Tristan," all originating at Bayreuth, offer a more accurate acoustical picture of a Bayreuth Festpielhaus performance.What struck me most on the sound side of the things in the Krauss recording was the forwardness of the voices in relation to the orchestra. It is well-known that Wagner designed the Bayreuth theatre using the then-revolutionary idea of putting the pit orchestra literally "in the pit," i.e., out of sight. There are various aesthetic results deriving from this placement, but certainly one is to facilitate a balance between the volume of sound produced by his orchetra scoring and the singers. The commercial records mentioned above all seem to bring the orchestra forward, and that fact is quite apparent when comparing them with the balances of the Krauss recording. If the latter represents something like a "true" sound of Bayreuth performances as heard from the audience, then it seems clear that commercial recordings made at Bayreuth "engineer out" Wagner's intended sound picture in order to produce records for audiences that are responding only to sound, not the spectacle of a live staged performance."
Martin | 09/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great recording. Someone is trying to sell it as a 'collectible' at a ridiculous price of two hundred dollars. Forget it. You can look around and find it - it's still available and its costs about a quarter of the ridiculous price that was quoted. Anything above seventy dollars is a riculous quote.Everyone is in top form here."